7/16/07 ROH in Tokyo - Morishima returns home to defend title against McGuiness
ROH “Live in Tokyo” DVD
July 16, 2007
A shot in the loading area of the arena showed Nigel McGuiness arriving at the building and meeting a couple of Japanese fans... Backstage, Takeshi Morishima cut a promo with the ROH Title draped over his shoulder...
In the ring, the ring announcer welcomed fans to ROH’s first show in Japan. He introduced Delirious, who took the mic and delivered his usual gibberish promo, which concluded with “Welcome to Ring of Honor.” The No Remorse Corps hit the ring and attacked Delirious until Jack Evans and Kotaro Suzuki made the save. Evans took the mic and welcomed the fans in Japanese...
1. Rocky Romero and Davey Richards beat Jack Evans and Kotaro Suzuki. The broadcast team of Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduced themselves (off-camera) as this match started. They acted as if they were in the building and doing their commentary live, as they put over the atmosphere inside the arena and discussed how exciting it was to be part of ROH’s first show in Japan. Romero and Richards worked over Evans late in the match. Evans survived a few nearfalls, but he was done in when Romero dropped him his head on a German suplex and then delivered a series of kicks before making the pin.
Powell’s POV: The announcers mentioned that Evans appeared to have packed on some muscle. He also limited his high spots. I kind of miss the old Evans, but I can’t blame the guy for scaling back. He still took his share of big bumps, but he didn’t perform any of the top rope dives that made him famous.
2. Shuhei Taniguchi beat Akihiko Ito. The announcers pointed out that both wrestlers are from Pro Wrestling Noah. They also explained that because both wrestlers are considered “young boys” in Japan, they wear black boots and trunks because they’re supposed to be focussed on improving in the ring. Jimmy Bauer (a/k/a Gabe Sapolsky) entered the booth and was thanked the fans for helping the promotion go from running 11 shows a year in a recreational center to running shows in London and now Japan. This was a good time for Bauer to interject because the match in the ring was nothing special. It was a decent match, yet there was nothing particularly memorable about it.
Backstage, Bryan Danielson said the rumor is that ROH is in negotiations to bring Go Shiozaki into the fold for an extended tour, so his job is to test him and see if he can cut it in ROH. Short and to the point.
3. Jimmy Rave pinned B.J. Whitmer. Rave told the few fans who were talking to shut up. Let’s just say he didn’t get the same reaction he would have in the United States. Whitmer did manage to get the crowd to join him in clapping a couple of minutes later. In the end, Rave hit a Pedigree and scored a clean pin. Decent action. Nothing memorable.
Powell’s POV: Whitmer strikes me as the type of wrestler who really feeds off the crowd, so the quiet and respectful audience didn’t exactly help this match. The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves, but the wrestlers never shifted into third gear as I suspect they would have if it had been a hot American crowd.
Backstage, the Briscos cut a short promo and introduced Naomichi Marufuji as their tag team partner.
4. Bryan Danielson forced Go Shiozaki to submit. The match picked up when Danielson threw stiff uppercuts and Shiozaki responded with stiff chops. Later, Danielson performed a baseball slide kick that sent Shiozaki into the first row of the crowd. Bryan instructed the people in the crowd to move and they quickly did so. Dragon jumped from the top rope and dove onto Shiozaki, who was standing behind the guardrail. The crowd loved it. Back in the ring, the crowd popped again for a missile dropkick. A couple minutes later, Danielson locked in a choke, but Go reached the ropes with his foot. The wrestlers played a game of “top this” as they exchanged punches and chops. Shiozaki hit a big chop, so Danielson came back with a big punch. Shiozaki performed a Lariat on Danielson, who came back with a suplex. Go superkicked Danielson and both men stayed down on the mat to sell the effects of the moves. The crowd ate it up. Later, Danielson worked the Cattle Mutilation twice and forced Shiozaki to tap the second time around. Afterward, Danielson took the mic and challenged the winner of the main event. He and Shiozaka shook hands.
Powell’s POV: A very good match that won over the crowd in a big way. They cheered the big moves and enjoyed the action without playing favorites. The crowd even chanted ROH afterward. Shiozaki was impressive, but Danielson really stood out. I would like to see Shiozaki again, but he didn’t do anything so impressive that it made me wish I could see him work with anyone in particular. Nevertheless, a good debut and I’m confident that Go could hold his own with other ROH wrestlers.
Backstage, a referee filled in for Rebecca and interviewed Ricky Marvin regarding his debut. Marvin spoke in Spanish and broken English. The referee cut the interview short, which didn’t appear to make Marvin happy.
5. Delirious beat Roderick Strong in a fight without honor. A wild match that featured chairs and a ladder. The wrestled made the most of the match stipulations and the crowd got behind the hardcore action, particularly some of the suplexes on the ladder. A segment of the crowd even chanted “Holy shit” at one point. The wrestlers settled into some non-hardcore exchanges and Delirious came out on top with a unique slam. Honestly, the cobra clutch slam he performed a few minutes earlier was more impressive.
Backstage, Nigel McGuiness cut a promo about challenging Morishima on the first ROH show in Japan. He recalled being at Wembley Stadium 15 years ago for SummerSlam and said he never imagined then that he’d be doing what he was about to do. He started in a humble tone and grew more intense and serious as he talked about pinning Morishima in New Jersey and believing he could do it again in Japan.
6. The Briscoes and Nomichi Marufuji beat Atsushi Aoki and Ricky Marvin and Matt Sydal. The Briscoes and Marufuji performed a simultaneous triple kick on Aoki in the corner. They teamed up about a minute later with a triple superkick. After some quality back and forth exchanges, one of the Briscoes hit Sydal with the Doomsday Device off the shoulders of his brother and Marufuji. The Briscoes came out looking strong, but I thought Marufuji was the star. He looked especially good when he fought Aoki, who was pretty much the whipping boy of the match.
The ring announcer thanked the fans for being part of ROH’s Japan debut. The crowd responded with an “ROH” chant.
7. Takeshi Morishima pinned Nigel McGuiness to retain the ROH Title. Morishima walked to the ring with the title belt in his teeth and didn’t show any extra emotion despite main eventing an ROH show in his home country. There were some “Mor-i-shima” chants, but there were actually louder “Let’s go Nigel” chants. Mirishima played the bully role early by throwing his weight around. Most members of the crowd seemed to be more sympathetic toward Nigel than caught up in cheering for their hometown favorite. The best early spot featured Nigel, standing at ringside, attempting to sunset flip the champion off the ring apron. Rather, Morishima crushed Nigel by sitting down on top of him. Morishima also showed some grace for a big man by performing a cartwheel and then going for a move in the corner even though Nigel ducked out of the way. Shortly thereafter, Nigel connected with a clothesline for a nearfall. The crowd didn’t really buy it since it was so early in the match, but they were definitely into the match. Nigel performed an awkward Tower of London for another nearfall that didn’t get much reaction from the crowd. They didn’t seem to buy into the match possibly ending, but they did begin clapping in unison just a few seconds after both nearfalls. They were especially energetic whenever Nigel was on offense, as the “Let’s go Nigel” chants continued.
The live crowd bought into the nearfalls more as the match went on. They were at their peak of excitement when Nigel attempted a Tower of London to the floor, but Morishima didn’t execute the bump well and the announcers quickly sold it as if he partially blocked the move. Nigel’s longest stretch of offense ended when Morishima side suplexed him off the apron and onto the floor. Wild move. The crowd is eating it up. The champ continued to play the bully role when he hit the challenger with repeated punches in the corner. When the ref tried to step in, Morishima threw him to the floor. The crowd popped big a few seconds later when a lariat led to another nearfall. Less than two minutes later, Morishia returned the favor with a Lariat of his own for a nearfall. He stood up and immediately performed a side-hook backdrop for the pin. Really intense match. Excellent.
Afterward, Bryan Danielson entered the ring with the ROH Title in his hand. He looked at the belt and said, “This is my belt, not yours.” Danielson slapped Morishima, but Nigel recovered and hit Danielson with an uppercut that knocked him to ringside. “What the f--- is your problem?” Danielson asked before making his exit. Nigel picked up the belt, looked at Morishima, and said, “This is your belt.” Nigel and the champion shook hands and were applauded by the live crowd, which broke out in a final “ROH” chant. A Japanese man entered the ring wearing a suit and presented Morishima with a trophy to close the show.
Backstage, the No Remorse Corps cut a promo and hyped the Osaka show... Back in the United States, Brent Albright said he’d just received word that Morishima retained the title. He vowed to walk out of Philadelphia as the new ROH Champion...
Final thoughts: I was hoping to see more of the Pro Wrestling Noah performers. None were made to look bad, but no one (aside from Marufuji, who has been showcased on previous ROH events) came out the show looking like a potential breakout ROH star. Then again, this was billed as ROH in Tokyo and regular viewers probably would have been disappointed had the emphasis been placed on the Noah performers. As much as this was a monumental event for ROH and presumably a dream come true for Sapolsky and his crew, the venue didn’t have a big league atmosphere. Even so, it was cool as an infrequent viewer of Japanese wrestling to see how their fans reacted to the ROH product, particularly when some audience members proved that they were hip to the product and American pro wrestling. The main event was really enjoyable and left me looking forward to both Morishima vs. Danielson, and McGuiness vs. Danielson. Overall, I’d give this show an 7.5 out of 10.
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